- (Photo: NPR / File)
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) will honor formerly imprisoned journalist Roxana Saberi with its 2010 Award of Valor next month during its annual convention in Atlanta.
Saberi, whose 100-day imprisonment in Iran drew worldwide attention, will be presented with the award, which every few years goes to a current or former student-athlete, coach or administrator who has shown uncommon bravery and courage in the face of grave personal danger.
The graduate of Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., had been arrested late January 2009 on a minor offense but three months later convicted on espionage charges and sentenced to eight years at the infamous Evin Prison.
For weeks, Saberi’s case was highlighted around the world and sparked a number of protests and vigils. It also spurred efforts from U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who insisted that the charges against Saberi were “baseless” and repeatedly called for the release of the U.S.-born-and-raised journalist.
Upon appeal of Saberi’s eight-year prison sentence, a court reduced her jail term to a two-year suspended sentence and allowed her to leave the country on the condition that she not report from Iran for the next five years.
Looking back, Saberi said she didn’t think much about courage before going to prison.
"I just thought, 'well, I'm doing a job and telling the stories of the Iranian people to people who cannot come to Iran and may not ever be able to come to Iran,'" she expressed in a news release.
Now, the 32-year-old journalist believes a courageous person "focuses on something greater than yourself."
Adding to that, Concordia College President Dr. Pam Jolicoeur said the Lutheran college is “extremely proud of Roxana.”
"She showed remarkable courage and poise under intense pressure, and she has already made a significant impact through her emerging career as a journalist," she added.
Since May 22, Saberi has been back in the United States and has taken the time to thank those who helped secure her freedom.
According to the most recent update, Saberi was expected to return home to North Dakota and work on finishing up her book about Iran, which she was working on when she was arrested.
Born and raised in the United States, Saberi had moved to Iran about six years ago to learn more about her cultural heritage. While there, she also worked as a freelance journalist for news organizations including the National Public Radio (NPR), BBC, ABC and Fox.
Saberi will receive the 2010 NCAA Award of Valor at the Honors Celebration during the 2010 NCAA Convention in Atlanta.
The last three recipients of the award were recognized following their deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan.